The Kids Are All Right

Banned Books, Autistic Main Characters, And More!

Happy Sunday, kidlit friends! I am covering for Karina again as she promotes her new middle grade book, The Vanderbeekers Ever After. This week was a big week for us! My daughter started kindergarten. She had a wonderful first week and loves her teacher and classmates. Hooray!

Today I review two amazing new picture book releases and new children’s books with autistic main characters written by autistic authors.

Before I get to those reviews, let me tell you about Book Riot’s New Release Index! Delighting velocireaders since 2017, Book Riot’s New Release Index will keep you in the know about all the latest books. New books for days. Subscribe today — you won’t be able to read them all, but it’s fun to try!

Bookish Goods

Book sticker birthday card by Night Owl Books

Book Sticker Birthday Card by NightOwlPaperGoods

This birthday card is adorable, and includes a book sticker! $7

New Releases

Cover of The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale by Khalil

The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale by Aya Khalil, illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan (picture book)

Today, Kanzi from The Arabic Quilt is leading her class to the school library. She’s looking forward to checking out a book in Arabic to bring home to her grandmother. However, when the students arrive, they find all the books with Black and Brown characters have been removed. The librarian and their teacher tell them that they’ve been banned. With the help of their teacher, Kanzi and her classmates decide to host a bake sale and protest. They make baked goods from their favorite diverse children’s books to earn money to buy banned books, and they protest the book ban at their school. Back matter includes the author describing how she responded when The Arabic Quilt was banned, as well as a recipe for baklawa. This is a really essential book for kids right now, particularly for kids who live in areas where books are being banned.

Cover of Where Have You Been, Little Cat? by Jones

Where Have You Been, Little Cat? by Richard Jones (picture book)

This picture book perfectly captures a child’s imagination. When a girl’s little cat returns home, she wonders where the cat has been, and what it’s been up to. In a series of page spreads, the illustrations show the little cat in a cat parade, the crowning of a new cat royalty, how the little cat responds to the threat of a dog, and more. It’s a really sweet, simple, and vibrant picture book for little cat lovers.

On my list of August children’s book releases, I also review Night Owl Night, Hopefully the Scarecrow, and No Place Like Home. For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Several books have been published this year that feature autistic children and are by autistic authors. Here are a few of them!

Cover of Too Much: An Overwhelming Day by Gutierrez

Too Much: An Overwhelming Day by Jolene Gutiérrez, illustrated by Angel Chang (picture book)

When a child wakes one morning, everything feels like too much sensory input. The alarm clock beeping is too loud, the tag on a shirt is too scratchy, and the sun is too bright. When the child and their mother go to a playground, the child has a breakdown and needs a snuggle from Mom and a soft blanket. They return home and the child practices calming techniques. Back matter includes a note to caregivers and educators from the author as well as advice for how to handle sensory overload. This is a rhythmic and simple read that autistic children and adults can relate to.

Cover of Bitsy Bat, School Star by Windness

Bitsy Bat, School Star by Kaz Windness (picture book)

This is a fantastic back-to-school picture book about a bat that initially has trouble fitting in at their new school. Bitsy is so excited to start school, but on her first day, she can’t seem to do anything right. She’s told to sit in a chair, which makes her dizzy, and to use her arms instead of her feet, which creates a big mess. Everything about the day leaves her feeling uneasy and ill. When she gets home, her supportive parents encourage her to be herself, and to not try to fit in. Then Bitsy has a brilliant idea — she’ll lead the students in a crafting activity that will show them how their differences make them a star. She’ll also ask for accommodations at school. Back matter includes definitions related to autism and an author’s note about being autistic.

Cover of A Day with No Words by Hammond

A Day with No Words by Tiffany Hammond, illustrated by Kate Cosgrove (picture book)

This is the only picture book I know of that depicts a Black nonverbal autistic child who uses a tablet to communicate. I would love to see more tablet usage in picture books! It’s about a normal day in the life of the young protagonist as he goes to the park with his mother and gets a treat afterward. Both mother and son use a tablet. I interviewed the author for a piece on disability in picture books for School Library Journal.

Cover of Good Different by Kuyatt

Good Different by Meg Eden Kuyatt (middle grade)

This lovely middle grade novel-in-verse is about 7th grader Selah and her struggles to mask in public. Her mother is insistent she masks, but doing so is incredibly difficult, and makes Selah feel like she’s unraveling. She pours out her frustration in her poems, which she’s scared of showing anyone. When she attends FantasyCon, she meets other autistic people who don’t mask and instead have found ways to embrace and accommodate their autism in public spaces. This gives Selah the confidence to speak up for herself.

Climbing on bus, the kids are all right

My daughter’s favorite part of kindergarten so far has been riding the school bus! This is her on her very first day. She’s made several kindergarten bus friends. I never enjoyed riding the bus as a kid, but this is a smaller bus, has only elementary students on it, and the ride is much shorter. Hopefully she continues to enjoy both riding the bus and kindergarten!

If you’d like to read more of my kidlit reviews, I’m on Instagram @BabyLibrarians, Twitter @AReaderlyMom, and blog irregularly at Baby Librarians. You can also read my Book Riot posts. If you’d like to drop me a line, my email is

Until next time!

Margaret Kingsbury